Monday, August 3, 2015

Friends and Cemeteries

I am thinking tonight about friends.

Gary and Wanda lost their beautiful home to a fire two weeks ago--not just the house but both vehicles, their pool, hot tub, every single thing.

Many of my storytelling friends are still in Kansas City at the National Storytelling Conference and sending glowing reports of all the fun and fellowship of the gathering of our close-knit clan.

Heather is back in the hospital after yet another back surgery and a year of pain and struggle to heal.

Liam lost his beloved grandfather.

Julie took gorgeous photos of the blue moon last night.

John bought a 450-pound anvil.

Victoria and Mark had car troubles.

Warren captured yet another honeybee swarm.

My musician friends are mostly down at Clifftop, the old-time music gathering in the mountains.

Vixi brought her husband home from a care facility for his birthday.

Judy lost a good storytelling friend.

Ellouise explored more story sources at a military museum.

Cousin-in-law Hazel was on hand in Cambridge to see the flowering of a giant arum that has not bloomed since 2004.

The list could go on and one. I know all of these things because of Facebook. This internet thing keeps me connected to people I would never be able to keep up with otherwise, living as I do in a rural area far from all of these friends and family. I love it. I like seeing their faces every morning when I check in and I like reading about their adventures, their funny comments. I am glad to be able to join with others in sending prayers, congratulations, supportive words or just laugh at the funny, silly, odd things they share. I avoid political and religious posts, because if someone is my friend it's not because of either of those things.

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to connect again, in person, with other friends I see only rarely at the Inland Waterways Festival in Marietta, Ohio. I was there to tell stories, but seeing people is a fine side benefit. Perhaps it is because there are days with no contact with anyone except my husband and my dogs that these face-to-face opportunities are so enjoyable, Perhaps it is because when I am home we see no cars, homes or other signs of humans--we are truly removed from contact here, with the except of phone, radio and computer. We can sometimes hear vehicles passing, but that's about it.

Then another opportunity to connect came to me in one of those odd, unexpected places.

 When I finished my performances at the festival, I intended to just go straight home. I was tired and hot. But I had heard of a cemetery in Marietta that encircled an Indian mound. All these years we've been going to Marietta to work on our booth, and I never saw this place! So I figured I could take a few minutes to have a look at it. Of course I went the wrong way first, and wound through streets of beautiful old homes. But I found the cemetery eventually. It was even prettier than I expected.

Now I know it sounds strange to visit a cemetery where I have no family buried, but I expect that most readers of this blog have a similar interest. So much history can be found in cemeteries, and there is something about being in such a place and honoring those buried there that just feels right.

The mound was, as I had heard, in the very center of the cemetery. It is surrounded by a moat, which surprised me. I went the wrong way around the mound too, which was fine with me since I got to see the entire cemetery. I found the steps leading up to the top of the mound--45 of them. They were surprisingly easy to climb.

At the top were benches and in the center a time capsule that will not be opened until 2026.

I sat down and looked around me.

 Large trees shaded the graves and muted traffic sounds. Below I could see a couple meandering among the stones. Although the day was hot, there was a cool breeze on the mound. I considered what was beneath me--were remains still in place in this burial mound, or had the early explorers raided it, as happened with so many mounds before people realized that was not a good thing to do? If there were still remains and other artifacts in the mound, I figured they were probably far more intriguing than the time capsule contents.

A woman came up the steps and joined me on the benches, and soon her husband also arrived. We began talking--about the mound, Marietta, the river, steamboats and early history, storytelling, ghosts, and more. This couple, Bill and Karen from Columbus, go "adventuring," just picking a place at random and going to see what they could find. We talked for an hour, three people meeting unexpectedly on top of an ancient mound, surrounded by the sleeping former residents of a frontier town. It was a most pleasant, leisurely conversation, none of us in a hurry to go anywhere.

We finally said goodbye. On the way home I thought about that meeting--had I not gone the wrong way first, walked the wrong way around the mound, I might have been gone by the time they arrived. Life throws us random chances sometimes, or perhaps it was all as it was meant to be.

I hope one day our paths will cross again. I bet it will be in some other out-of-the way place.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

In the Pacific Northwest: On the Way Home

We had a great time. We didn't want to leave. But the time did finally come, and I hoped I'd taken enough photos so that we could relive the adventure over and over in the future. And we'll go back--we want more time with Reyn and Liz, more time to explore, more time to see Oregon.

Reyn and Liz picked us up in their 1955 Chevy. What a ride! I had been talking to some of the powwow dancers while we waited, and when that car pulled up, they grinned from ear to ear, and gave a big thumbs up. I tell you, I felt cool getting in that car.

I watched the Oregon countryside pass by through the window--fields of hay, distant mountains, wineries with fields of grapes, garages with old trucks hidden inside, farmhouses.

I thought back to one place we'd visited, the Grand Ronde Shopping Center. Iconic of a time gone past, as was much of what I watched through the window for the first part of the trip.

And then, there was this airplane sitting on top of a building. Really?? Really. And from its side came waterslides! Other aircraft were all over the place.

 This was the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum and Waterpark and a long way from the rural countryside we'd just been seeing.

We did not have time to stop, but Reyn took us a drive through the grounds. Through the glass we could see the historic Spruce Goose, the largest wooden aircraft ever built and the brainchild of Henry Kaiser and Howard Hughes. One day I want to see this thing close up.

We met grandson Jared for lunch, then said our goodbyes to our friends and headed to Portland with Jared.

His apartment is right downtown--this is the view from the rooftop patio in their building (which has a hot tub, firepit, and lounge area, pretty nice).

Jared took us for a little tour of the city on the transit system.

We didn't go far, but saw a lot that was interesting.

Powell's! I've bought from them online so it was a treat to see this huge used/new bookstore in person. I have to admit, I get overwhelmed quickly when faced with too much to look at. We browsed and enjoyed looking at the antiquarian and rare books, then headed out to find dinner.

On the way to the restaurant we passed many, many food trucks. They're everywhere in Portland. This one offers "a taste of your childhood. And if your childhood sucked, we'll share a taste of ours."

The Multnomah County Public Library where my friend Dr. Margaret Read MacDonald once worked. I don't think I ever considered actually seeing this place, which is a great supporter of storytelling.

We chose a place called Henry's for dinner, and opted for the patio. What a good evening, talking with Jared and his girlfriend Pilar.

Then we headed back on the train for the apartment for more talk and finally sleep.

We were up and out before 6:00am. Jared dropped us off at the airport, and soon we were back on a plane and homeward bound with lots of memories that will have to hold us until we can get out west again.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Friday, July 31, 2015

What Else Has Been Going On in July

I am almost finished posting my Oregon photos--today I will download the ones from my phone and post those. I have been doing other things this month, really I have!

Most of what I've been doing is storytelling. July is always a big month for me with library Summer Reading programs. I hit the ground running when we returned with three programs as soon as I got home, and then followed up with six performances the following week. The gardens have managed pretty well while I've been gone so much, thanks to lots of rain (LOTS!). A small tornado passed through while we were away one weekend but fortunately missed our place by a couple miles.

Last week, though, we had a really wild time.

You see, while I was gone overnight on a storytelling trip, Larry managed to roll the riding mower and cut his fingers pretty badly. He also broke two of them. This was just before three of my sisters were coming to visit, and I still had another day of storytelling to do. His hand was a real mess--and he did it at 3:00 in the afternoon and was still cutting grass with that bloody mangled hand when I got home at 6:00! He said, "Just wrap it up and tape it, it will be fine." I about fainted looking at it, it was so bad. After some persuasion ("I'm going to call an ambulance if you don't go with me now!") he agreed to go. He slipped in the shower and blood went flying everywhere. It looked like a murder scene in there by the time I got him cleaned up and dressed.

So about 40 stitches and much bandaging later, we got home around midnight. I was up and out early the next morning for my last summer reading programs and our son Derek took Larry to the VA Clinic for follow-up. The next morning I did not like the look of his swelled-up hand, called the VA and we were off to the VA hospital a couple hours away to have it looked at again. Meantime, my sisters were on their way here. I called them, told them to make themselves at home until we could get back. Derek (who wins Best Son Prize this month!) offered to cook dinner at his house that evening. His barbecued chicken is the best I've ever eaten, and his grilled bread and veggies are excellent too. So that wild day ended on his patio with a nice fire in the firepit, good conversation and time to finally relax.

Liz looking like a movie star--
and Theresa caught in the act of dishing up some salsa!
Judy got lucky and missed out on getting snapped.
The next morning my sisters and I took off junking. We hit a good sale in town, visited my booth at the Ravenswood mall, then drove over to Pomeroy for lunch at the Wild horse. Who knew it was Blues & Brews week in Pomeroy? Lots of traffic, music and people but the Wild Horse, with its outside covered deck overlooking the river, was a perfect place to eat--and their food is awesome.

We wound up that day with a fire in our own firepit, lots of laughter and conversation. Next morning was blueberry pancakes, sausage, and breakfast on the deck, and then my sisters left for home, and my house was quiet once more.

Larry's hand is healing nicely. I've had a little time to do some cleaning of this house which has been neglected for weeks, and even got started on organizing the workshop in the new room--the room is nowhere near finished but I don't care. I desperately need a place to work besides all over the house. One day maybe we'll get it done but my need for space to paint and repair has taken priority. It's covered, it's heated, it's lighted and it will do.

I've also been working on my upcoming performances for the Inland Waterways Festival this weekend in Marietta, starting August off right with storytelling. I have found so many intriguing facts, legends and stories about the Ohio River and the areas surrounding it I will have a hard time deciding what to tell. Today I'll be whittling and honing the list, a fun task with such a wealth to work with.

That's a little bit of a catch-up. There's more of course, but that can be a later post!

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.
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